Friday, April 2, 2010


Boats are a mystery to me. Just as surely as they are made of wood and fiberglass and metal, inanimate parts held together with nails, epoxy and screws, so also they are inexplicably alive, coursing with their own spirit, an undeniable presence. They can be on the one hand exuberant, compliant, gentle, or on the other cranky and obstinate.

It is left to us to adapt to their personality, to accommodate their foibles and idiosyncrasies. Eventually, the adaptation complete, we have a new "normal."

"Oh, you don't have to hold your mouth this way and wave your left hand when you start your engine? Strange."

"You don't have a plastic washer on the forestay to keep the staysail from jamming? Weird."

But just as we conform to the ways of our boat, she gives back in equal measure. On the water, we are utterly dependent on her for survival. She in turn takes care of us, our sole protection against the elements.

It should come as no surprise that over the months and years, affection for our boat turns into something akin to, dare I say it? Love. Even the saltiest old crabs among us can go soft and weepy about our boats.

I have a sentimental streak that sometimes grows wide enough to lose the title 'streak,' especially when it comes to boats.

This morning Isabella's new owners came to get her. I wanted to be there to wave goodbye when she left, not 1800 miles away. I wanted to salute her, to raise a glass, to delight in her beauty, to sit one last time in that bowsprit seat, to run along the dock with balloons, something, anything.

What kind of person feels guilty for not being there to say goodbye to a boat? The answer is blowing in the New Mexico wind.

I only miss you every now and then
Like the soft breeze blowin' up from the Caribbean
Most Novembers I break down and cry
'Cause I can't remember if we said goodbye   --Steve Earle


Unknown said...

Tammy - you brought tears to my eyes but I understand. Isabella did us well on our trek to Matthews Point. We survived sailing at night in the ditch, anchoring in the dark and not running aground, greetings from a BIG barge in the morning fog near Belhaven and a night spent on Bonner Bay only to have Isabella not start on Easter morning. Yeah for Seatow, yeah for Peter's brain. We arrived Sunday afternoon and all on the dock admired Isabella's beauty. We are proud to be her new owners!

tammy kennon said...

Suzanne! It's so good to hear from you. We wondered how you fared. Chip said you three made a beautiful picture leaving Colington Harbour. I'm glad you all made it safely. You'll find she turns many a head. Happy, happy sailing! -- Tammy

Jeanne said...

Tammy - that was beautiful. Thanks for the opportunity to follow your journey, and for also posting the video. I had no idea what Steve Earle looked like!